Malala spurs school-for-all vow, now deliver

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Story highlights

  • Schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, shot by Taliban, inspires Pakistan to education-for-all goal
  • Pakistan leaders vow to get five million children without schooling into classes by 2015
  • UN envoy Gordon Brown: It seems that Malala's courage has awoken Pakistan's silent majority
  • He says Pakistan, with international support, must now deliver

Pakistan has a new heroine and a new cause -- a girl's right to education -- and after Friday's announcements from the Pakistani government that they will adopt new measures to get every child into school by end 2015, that cause has a timetable and a deadline for delivery.

Everywhere you go in Pakistan you find people talking animatedly about the 15-year-old girl, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban last month.

A rickshaw touring the streets of Islamabad has a slogan posted on it: "Malala for education and peace." Go to the local girls' school and every girl seems to have written either a poem or a song, a letter or a card to Malala.

Listen to the politicians and every speech is laced with references to the courage of Malala. Meet civil society organizations and they will tell you that the audience for their educational demands has risen markedly over the last few weeks.

Gordon Brown

It seems that Malala's courage has awoken Pakistan's silent majority who are no longer prepared to tolerate the threats and intimidations of the Pakistan Taliban.

Your messages to Malala

Can Pakistan convert its momentary desire to speak out in support of Malala into a long term commitment to getting its three million girls and five million children into school? Can the politicians, long-criticized for a failure to deliver, find the teachers, the classrooms and the reading materials to give millions of children a basic education?

    This is what I talked about with Pakistan's leaders. Meeting President Asif Ali Zardari, and in front of a 500-strong audience, many of them from the Swat Valley where Malala was shot, I presented petitions already signed by more than one million people in the international community in honor of Malala and her cause.

    These signatures were complemented with another one million signatures collected by Pakistani civil society's One Million Signature Campaign to demand free and compulsory education.

    Another 100,000 signatures from out-of-school Pakistani children are the start of yet another one million-strong petition, this time from the children themselves demanding their right to school.

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    The president and I agreed on a series of deadlines in a plan to ensure all of Pakistan's five million out-of-school children have the opportunity to go to school.

    Pakistan on Friday asked to join the Accelerated Millennium Development Goal Framework process that will allow the country to assess its current education plans, strategies and obstacles to delivery in consultation with international organizations and then work together to contribute to Pakistan's dream of education for all.

    A deadline for the final draft of this accelerated plan is set for April 2013 when the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President of the World Bank Jim Kim and myself, alongside the heads of major international agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA and the Global Partnership for Education, will meet in Washington with the Ministers of Education and Finance of Pakistan.

    The aim is to match international and domestic support for realizing the 2015 goal.

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    Five months of intensive in-country work with the Pakistan government, civil authorities and foundations, as well as international organizations, lie ahead to ensure a detailed, budgeted plan.

    I have suggested to the president that he consider involving all educational groups from civil society interested in achieving the universal goal in the processes.

    Today there is new hope for the three million girls denied their right to schooling and a new chance to ensure the right to education for all.

    Pakistan and the international community are united in their goals.

    We now must deliver. But a more active, more engaged and more determined Pakistani people can ensure that education for all is no longer a slogan but a reality.

        Malala's battle

      • A copy of the memoirs of Pakistani child activist Malala Yousafzai is pictured in a bookstore in Islamabad on October 8, 2013. Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai tells of the moment she was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education in her new autobiography out on October 8, amid speculation that she may be about to become the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Co-written with British journalist Christina Lamb, 'I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban' tells of the 16-year-old's terror as two gunmen boarded her schoolbus on October 9, 2012 and shot her in the head.

        The teen blogger simply wanted an education. But she became a symbol of defiance against militants, empowering young women worldwide.
      • Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls education who was shot in the head by the Taliban, sits before she speaks at the United Nations (UN) Youth Assembly on July 12, 2013 in New York City.

        More than three million girls are out of school in Pakistan, while spending on education has decreased to 2.3 percent of GDP in 2010.
      • Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls education who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012, officially opens The Library of Birmingham in Birmingham, central England, on September 3, 2013.

        The Pakistani Taliban issues a new death threat against Malala, who turns the other cheek.
      • Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai was able to stand up and communicate on Friday, October 19.

        Hundreds of messages from around the world were received by CNN for Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani teen activist attacked by the Taliban.
      • Pakistani NGOs activists carry placards as they shout slogans at an event on International Human Rights Day in Lahore on December 10, 2012.

        Pakistan has a new heroine and a new cause -- a girl's right to education. Now the government vows to get every child into school by end 2015.